British consumers sceptical about food industry

Research shows British consumers are continuing to be sceptical about the British food industry and its ability to provide safe food as a result of the horsemeat scandal.

According to new research by Mintel, only 49% of the British public trusts that the food industry will provide food that is safe for consumption.

Mintel separately researched consumers who have purchased ready meals with regards to the horsemeat scandal, and found that one in five were worried they had bought contaminated products, and 18% claimed they would avoid ready meals with beef due to the scandal.

A positive outcome for British farmers was that the research found that interest in local origin (30-mile radius) increased from 17% to 21% in the four months to March 2013.

Thirty-seven per cent of the public remains undecided on food safety and a mere 42% believes in the industry’s ability to effectively react to food scares, with 23% agreeing that the different elements of the supply chain work effectively together.

Senior food analyst at Mintel Alex Beckett said: “That food should not be harmful should be one of the most basic of consumer expectations, yet only half of adults feel the UK food industry provides food that is safe to eat, signalling a widespread breakdown of trust in the agri-food chain, and suggesting the need for more active communications and greater transparency towards consumers.

“The fact that just 36% of consumers believe manufacturers know where their ingredients originate highlights just how long and convoluted modern food supply chains can be. The food industry looks set to face much work to regain consumer trust.”

Seventy-seven per cent of adults considered the industry to be too reliant on mass manufacturing, a number that increased with age.

Beckett added: “The grocers and manufacturers have typically not drawn attention to suppliers of own-brand products, but providing these details on-pack could help to support consumer trust in the grocers’ sourcing.”

Furthermore, it was revealed that men are considerably more likely to trust on-pack information than women, with 45% to 36% respectively.